Angry farmers took to the street at Lasalgaon, Nashik, to protest over falling onion prices as modal prices fell to Rs 1,100 per quintal on Monday, the season’s lowest so far.
Wholesale onion prices have fallen by Rs 1,500 per quintal in the last 15 days. On Monday, modal prices at Lasalgaon touched Rs 1,100 per quintal with at least 16,500 quintals arriving in the market.
According to Nanasaheb Patil, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), farmers were upset over falling onion prices and threatened to stop auctions on Monday. “It was only after we intervened and made them understand that closing the market is not the solution since this would lead to more arrivals on the subsequent days. It was then that farmers permitted auctions to continue at Lasalgaon,” he said.
Farmers are demanding minimum support price (MSP) for onion or scrapping of minimum export price (MEP). Last week, National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) officials had predicted a fall in prices over increasing arrivals of onions.
On Saturday, farmers from Chandwad town of Nashik district staged a road blockade on the Mumbai-Agra Highway demanding that the Centre reduce the MEP even as prices dipped to the lowest — Rs 900 per quintal — in Chandwad, Lasalgaon and other places in the district. When the APMC opened in the morning, the prices quoted were minimum Rs 900 per quintal, maximum Rs 1,650 and average Rs 1,350 per quintal. Farmers then took to the street and marched to the Mumbai-Agra Highway and staged a blockade for nearly half an hour.
According to market committee officials, exporters have told farmers that they would not be exporting onion because of higher MEP, causing fear among farmers.
Ajit Shah, president, Horticulture Producers Exporters Association, told FE that there have been no export orders since international prices are lower than the domestic market. International prices have fallen to $250 per tonne and it has become very difficult for Indian exporters to compete in the international markets, he said.